Call it an obsession, but to me, nothing is cooler than that 80s and 90s, slight-out-of-focus, neon-colored, grid art with arcade style weaponry, fast sporty cars, photon-based effects, and a glimpse into retro-futurism. And, although we haven’t been delivered such a movie in full since “Tron” this movie does it in a whole new perspective with old tricks. So, strap in, grab your old power glove and enjoy my review of
I can describe this movie with one word… Nostalgia. The magic of this film takes place with its arsenal of retro items from the targeted demographics childhood/teen years. Stuff like the signature power glove, which is used as a weapon on the Turbo Rider suit, a view master, retro rollerblade pads, etc get you the instant gratification of nostalgia; making you attached to the screen thinking “I wonder what other cool stuff they have in this movie”. Also, let’s be honest, the power glove, although was awful as a controller, was still badass.
Turbo Kid, what I believe to be a modern wonder, is exactly the movie I have been looking for in some time. It is a fine mixture of 80s grindhouse films, childhood memories, and a modern day hipster-feel love story. It does lack the scenic emotion of that of an 80s film, like that of Terminator, Robocop, and Escape From New York where the movie is constantly shrouded in a faint darkness for most of the film giving it a more shadowy depth to its features. But, definitely a modern day tribute to that style of art, and a very respectable one at that.
Turbo Kid keeps a constant aura of over-the-top action and ridiculousness, giving it a nice comedic tone, to keep that authentic 80s cheese and comic book schmaltziness. By using bikes instead of motorcycles and questionable dialogue it makes you feel you’re listening to a story told by an overly excited and actionable 10-year-old; “So the bad guy chops that dudes head off and there are blood and guts everywhere. Suddenly Turbo Kid comes flying through on his awesome tricked out bike and blasts him away with his Photon Blaster” as one could assume a child like that would tell such a story. Every time something really devastating happens, it ridicules that evil by fighting it off with pure awesomeness, with the child-like wonder of “I’m gonna kick evils but with my Photon Blaster“. It’s like an old, sick, and twisted power rangers commercial. One where the kids shooting their toy guns and fighting with action figures, cause real-life casualties.
Each character follows a specific persona and formula, making the intended perception to make you feel you’re actually seeing a comic book in action. Turbo Kid is a modern day cult classic that captures something most movies have not. A relatable sensibility of oneself. Even though the Turbo Kid world seems like a horrible world to live in, the characters make you wish you were there because they do such an amazing job and making you relate to, or idolize, the character in some way.
Speaking of Idolizing, have you ever wanted to be your favorite superhero? Well, for The Kid, that dream came true… but not like you would hope.
Turbo Kid takes place In an alternate 1997 in an almost enigmatic world known only as, “The Wasteland”. One could compare the mystery of this world to that of David Fincher’s film “Seven” where the city is only recognized as “This Place”.
Our protagonist aka, The Kid (Munro Chambers), is a lone wanderer who collects various nostalgic things from the past that catch his interest; come to find out later that it is significant to a deep and disturbing past with his parents who are presumed missing or dead. The Kid is the hero persona that idolizes a comic book hero named Turbo Rider. When you pay attention, you’ll notice the comic strips you do see in the movie, subtlely explain the upcoming plot points. He lives off the land and sticks to himself; dwells on the past, and only goes into town for the occasional trade to a merchant for water and other goods. He has a very specific guideline of survival rules and regulations that he follows on daily bases, showing an utmost organization to our hero.
Throughout his adventure, he is accompanied by an arm-wrestling cowboy, Fredrick (the mysterious stranger persona. Aaron Jeffery). Who, although at first seems like an antagonist, he becomes a helpful guardian over The Kid, almost a father figure… almost. He resembles a cowboy Indiana Jones, who lives life only in his prospects. The role was done fantastically. Fredrick is the best character in the movie as far as mysteriousness and keeping you aware of the comic-like-style of this universe.
Enter, the love interest. We find The Kid sitting on a lone swing set in the middle of nowhere, reading a Turbo Rider comic that he received through trade/barter in town, and stumbles upon “Apple” (the love interest and damsel persona. Laurence Leboeuf) a young blonde girl who seems to be conversating with a dead body calling it “friend”. Very weird and seemingly crazy. She slaps a wristband on The Kid, a tracking device, and claims him to be her new friend. Obviously weirded out by this, and acting like he’s never seen a girl before, The Kid runs to his hideout, where he keeps all of his cool items and Turbo Rider memorabilia. Apple is a very curious character. She acts as an enabler for The Kid to discover who he really is and what he is destined to be. This is a typical approach in the film industry, but, does not make it more or less desirable.
This is not a happy world and none of our characters have lived any form of a happy life. In fact, any curiosity of what lies beyond the wasteland, so they can “get out of this place”, is immediately a bitter pill with promises of nothing else of significance throughout the entire wasteland. The wasteland itself can be seen as the universe for this movie as a whole. Picture it almost like what you are watching, is actually a comic book. When you listen to the dialogue and the general demeanor of the characters, it ends up making sense. It’s important to keep that mystery of the wasteland alive too because if you knew everything you wouldn’t have anything to look forward to. It makes you come to believe that what you see is what you get. It also leaves room for a sequel, which is normally heinous by nature, but I digress. I would actually enjoy a sequel in this case.
The hierarchy of morals follows a true dichotomy of good and evil; anyone in between is just canon fodder. Now, there can’t be evil villains without some sort of drive right? Well, water appears to be very scarce and is the main premise behind the devilish plot. The villains in this movie, lead by Zeus (the villain persona. Michael Ironside) and his psychopathic killer, Skeletron (the right-hand man persona), played by (Edwin Wright), have developed a machine that extracts water from human blood, as a means to re-hydrate the wasteland. This is where all the happiness and whimsy gets shot into the drain as you sit back and watch it, laughing while it happens. Zeus has absolutely no remorse for anyone. Just when you thought this movie was going to be about 1 thing, you watch Michael Ironside have a guy get his face smashed in with a cinder block and realize you’re going for a ride.
After a run-in with Zeus and his goons, Apple becomes “injured” and The Kid finds himself lost and confused. Through his confusion, he accidentally stumbles upon a buried space ship, that he clumsily falls into, and notices a familiarity. In the pilot seat is a dead Turbo Rider and a video feed playing the footage of a man deeming Turbo Rider as humanities “last hope”. The Kid takes this opportunity to become what hes always wanted to be. A Turbo Rider. Hence becoming, Turbo Kid.
So he becomes Turbo Kid and goes out on his plight in search of revenge and justice. Which takes your once destroyed innocence, gives it some steroids, and beats the living hell out of your guilt.
Now, I’m not going to go into much further detail, but I rate this as one of my favorite movies to date. There are definitely flaws in the movie. I cannot fully explain its flaws without visuals and major spoilers but with its shotty transitioning, certain poorly shot scenes, repetitiveness, questionable support acting, noticeable lacks of effort, and progression, you can definitely see a dispute to this being anything other than just “a good movie”. This definitely will, if it hasn’t already, create a cult following that I hope inspires many more ideas like this and spawn some masterpieces for our future. It is a very satisfying film to watch and I walk away from it only wanting to see more.